Character and Academics: What Good Schools Do

Character and Academics: What Good Schools Do. Learning institutions provide multiple educational resources and platforms for both student…

Character and Academics

Article Critique

Character and Academics: What Good Schools Do

Learning institutions provide multiple educational resources and platforms for both students and educators to attain success-specific goals. According to the authors, many schools place immeasurable focus and efforts on increasing academic performance, ignoring other tenets that shape one’s attitudes, behavior, and character. In the recent past, character education has become a contentious topic in learning as most schools fail to accept the challenge of integrating character education and academic improvement.

Yet policymakers and educational professionals promote and increase the quality of education and overall student orientation in the school and societal settings. With available academic resources, focusing on a particular area may be deemed misguided because students’ development and growth will be partial rather than a whole. 

The primary issue with most schools is the lack of supplementary initiatives to cultivate all-rounded students. As much as schools streamline students’ academic performance, it is mandated to prepare them for after-school life to fit in society without any significant challenges. However, Benninga et al. argue that education programs in the US fall short in character development as students are taught wrong values or none.

In the past, development emphasized character, and for this reason, students had role models they emulated and significantly shaped perceptions, behaviors, and attitudes. Therefore, the authors seek to establish relations between character education and academic achievement and determine what good schools should do.

References are cited following the Chicago referencing system, which is a standard formatting system. Also, the reference list includes all the references cited within the article’s text, which is essential as it acknowledges scholarly resources by other researchers. In some cases, concise scholarly articles and reference lists often comprise few entities, but in Character and Academics: What Good Schools Do, the authors provide a comprehensive reference list and extensively cite it. Therefore, the references are relevant and current regarding their published date and prompt additional follow-up reading. 


The authors aimed to ascertain whether they could find a significant relationship between character education and academic achievement across a range of elementary schools. Benninga et al. (2006) conducted research that utilized a similar population to the 2000 California Department of Education for distinguished elementary schools. This approach was taken because of its efficacy in previous studies, and during that year, 2001, the eligibility criteria were based on the previous year’s academic performance index results.

Benninga et al. identified a stratified random sample of 120 elementary schools that provided their applications in their research (Benninga et al., 2006). Although the chosen elementary schools did not indicate profound differences with other “not choses” schools, the researchers measured the extent of character education implementation against academic performance index results and SAT-9 scores. These measures were the foundational research elements that resulted in the formulation of variables or criteria drawn from the Character Education Quality Standards and California Department of Education standards.Data collected was recorded on a rubric and a scoring scale and constituted the six criteria that address at least one crucial element of character education.

The six criteria included were fundamental: this school promotes core ethical values as the basis of good character; in this school, parents and other community members are active participants in the character education initiative; in this school, character education entails the intentional promotion of core values in all phases of school life; staff members share responsibility for and attempt to model character education; this school fosters an overall caring community, and this school provides opportunities for most students to practice moral action. 


Validity and reliability of research instruments ensured results are comprehensive and deducible of findings. The study used a rubric and scoring scale to measure study indicators. Results from high-performing California elementary schools indicated positive relationships between the extent of character education implementation and academic attainment in one year and the following couple of academic years (Benninga et al., 2006).

Of the four indicators chosen: promoting a caring community and positive social relationships, evidence that a school’s parents and teachers modeled and promoted good character, a school’s ability to ensure a clean and safe physical environment; and high-quality opportunities at the school for students to contribute meaningful ways to the school and its community, there was a significant correlation with high rankings on academic performance index and high SAT-9 scores.


Lastly, the research concluded its findings and results in the conclusions section. Benninga et al. (2006) noted that programs targeting character education should co-exist with academic programs to attain academic excellence and make intuitive sense. Although the study focused merely on few elementary schools, the authors contend that future research in the same field should angle studies to a broader representation of schools characterized in the average and below-average categories. 

I think that the research was well-written though the data and instruments used were inadequately elaborated exhaustively. Nevertheless, the results cultivate a sense of understanding of the composition of a good character education curriculum in academically strong schools and influence academic outcomes over time and across multiple content areas. As a result, schools integrating good character education programs are associated with high academic achievement.


Benninga, J., Berkowitz, M., Kuehn, P., & Smith, K. (2006). Character and Academics: What Good Schools Do. Phi Delta Kappan87(6), 448-452. doi: 10.1177/003172170608700610

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Character and Academics: What Good Schools Do
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